Chichester student says university experience ‘doesn’t seem worth it’ amid pandemic

A first-year student is so disappointed by her experience at the University of Chichester so far that she is considering dropping out.

The University of Chichester

Sophie Johnson said she was told ahead of term that her course would be run ‘as normally as possible’ despite the pandemic.

It was only after she signed her contract to stay in halls and moved into her new accommodation that she received her timetable and was surprised to find she had just three hours of face-to-face learning each week, with the rest of her classes delivered online.

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The 19-year-old, who is from Portsmouth, said that if she had known this earlier, she would have decided to live back at home and commute in for lectures.

Sophie had been looking forward to starting her course and getting ‘the uni experience’ after a gap year spent working in Vans shoe shop.

“I was excited, I worked with a lot of university students who said their uni experience had been great, they made lots of friends,” she said.

But Sophie said she had ‘hated’ her experience so far.

Coronavirus restrictions had made it difficult to meet people and Sophie said she had been housed with third-year students who already had friends.

“I feel like I’ve only made a few friends, and that’s through social media,” she said.

“There’s not much of a social life, a lot of people are just sitting in their rooms.”

Sophie now wants to leave halls and move home but claims the university said she would have to continue paying for her accommodation for the rest of the year.

“It just seems I’m a bit trapped,” she said. “Obviously I don’t want to lose the money I’ve paid.”

She said her only other option would be to quit her course altogether.

“I would consider doing an online-based degree,” she said. “It’s a lot cheaper and it’s basically what I’m getting now.”

She said of her current experience: “I’m paying almost £17,000 a year for the whole university experience. It just doesn’t seem worth it.”

Her father Colin Johnson said he felt his daughter had been let down.

“If she had known there would only be three hours of lectures, there’s no way in a million years she would have spent that much money to stay in halls,” he said.

A spokesman from the University of Chichester said: “We sympathise with our students at this challenging time and emphasise that the university remains open, as per government regulations, and is a safe place to live and learn.

“We are currently operating with a blended approach of face-to-face learning and occasional online tuition.

“A range of measures have been put into practice to support the welfare of our students, whether they are learning on campus or remotely.

“We have not yet heard back from the student in question, however, we remain open to conversation with her regarding the best possible outcome to enable her to continue learning effectively.”